Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I've been distracted

I have a lovely salad recipe for you today. An Israeli coucous salad flecked with rosemary, apples and dried cranberries to be specific. I think you'll want to make it for your next potluck, or a brown-bag lunch, or hell! maybe a picnic someday soon, please god please.

And that's where I'll stop talking about the salad.

Because, I've been distracted from here to the moon and back these past few days. Since Sunday morning, when I waited with phone in one hand, coffee in the other, pacing around the apartment. Any minute! my mom had just told me (I called her for a morning update). At 9:30 my brother finally called, and when I answered I first heard a baby crying (which made me tear up too, hearing her for the first time ((and also, because I'm an emotional person))).

And then he said, Well, we have a little girl. My brand new baby niece.

I drove to the hospital later that morning and cradled her in my arms. And people, she is perfect. Dark button eyes and a head full - full - of feathery dark hair. Soft chubby cheeks and fists in a ball. I know everyone says this about every baby, but she is perfect. They named her Natalia.

And now she's ours - I can't believe that. Forever! She's one of us. Our little Nattie, so perfect, with that swirling dark hair...

Israeli Couscous Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Herbs
Adapted just slightly from Giada De Laurentis

Note: This recipe makes quite a large batch, great for a party or potluck. If you're serving two people like me, I'd recommend halving it. To toast the slivered almonds, simply place them in a dry skillet over medium heat, and cook, stirring often, until fragrant (3-5 minutes).

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Israeli couscous
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 small tart apple, diced (I recommend granny smith)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted (see recipe headnote for instructions)
Maple cider vinaigrette (recipe below)

In a medium saucepan, heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add the coucous and cook, stirring occasionally, until the couscous is toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add 4 cups of water; raise heat and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, turn heat down to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated, about 12 minutes.

Remove couscous from heat and set aside to cool. When cooled a bit, add herbs, apple, cranberries, toasted almonds; stir in the maple cider vinaigrette.

Maple Cider Vinaigrette
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Whisk together the vinegar, maple syrup and kosher salt. Slowly whisk in olive oil until combined.